Montag, 12. September 2011

Plant of the Day (September 12th, 2011) - Linaria vulgaris Mill.

This time, I want to show you Linaria vulgaris Mill. In German this plant is known as “Gewöhnliches Leinkraut”, “Frauenflachs” or “Kleines Löwenmaul”, while in English, you may known it as “Common Toadflax”. The membership of this plant is a little bit unclear. Previously, it belongs to the Scrophulariaceae, but today, many author put it into the Plantaginaceae family. Anyway, in many books, L. vulgaris still belongs to the Scrophulariaceae. Therefore, I'll accept both versions to avoid confusion.

L. vulgaris - habitus

This plant is a herb, which can reach heights between 20 and 40 centimetres. It has a simple, round shoot-axis, which is covered with glands in its upper section, while the lower area is bare. The thin leaves are narrow and laneceolate with three leaf-veins per leaf. They are between 2 and 5 centimetres long and are sitting directly on the shoot-axis.

L. vulgaris - leaf

The flowers are cygomorph with five free sepals and five fused petals with a stirking bulge on the anterior petal. The sense of the bulge is in then nature of pollination. L. vulgaris is specialized in large pollinators like bumblebees. Only this pollinators are strong enough to push down the bulge to reach the nectar. The petals are yellowish, while the bulge is deep yellow or orange. The sepals are green. Furthermore, each flower has a long, yellow spur, which is an outgrowth of the petals.
The fruit is a capsule, which matures between July and September.

L. vulgaris - flowers

The species is native to Europe and Asia, but also a neophyte in North America. It's also a so called Apophyte. An Apophyte is a plant, which has become completely dependent on the anthropogenic influence. It grows on warm, rocky soils and open, bright places. So, it benefits from human influence, because man creates exactly the right habitats in the form of embankments, slopes or industrial wasteland.

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